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ACHD reclassifies Warm Springs in Barber Valley to a residential street after years of talks

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After years of going back and forth with the City of Boise, ACHD has changed the status of a section of Warm Springs Avenue at the request of the neighborhood to allow traffic calming to be implemented. 

Ada County is different than every other locality in the United States. Our system is set up to where cities determine development patterns and land use, but a separate agency with its own elected officials, the Ada County Highway District, controls the maintenance, construction and classification of the street network. 

This can sometimes create situations, like on Warm Springs Avenue between Highway 21 and Eckert Road, where a city has a different vision than the highway district for how it should be developed and interact with the developments built around it. As BoiseDev previously reported, the Barber Valley Neighborhood Association and the City of Boise has been pushing for this section of Warm Springs to be classified to a residential street to allow features more welcoming to pedestrians and with slower traffic. 

The ACHD Commission voted unanimously on Wednesday to change the classification of Warm Springs, allow a roundabout at the intersection of Park Center Boulevard and Warm Springs and two other changes the City of Boise was hoping for on the Master Street Map. This map doesn’t set a date for when projects will get done, but it serves as a long-range planning document for where streets should go and what they should look like when they’re constructed. 

By downgrading Warm Springs from a more highway style arterial to a residential collector road, it opens the door to traffic calming measures in the area like more entrances onto the street, pedestrian crossings and roundabouts. 

“We can design with the city and the neighborhood some traffic calming to ensure people are only going 30 miles an hour,” Commissioner Jim Hansen said. “That was the intent when the state vacated that and invested enormous amounts of money in connecting Highway 21 to Federal Way and the Interstate which is a faster way of getting from the entrance to the valley to locations in downtown Boise.”

How will this impact Atwell Place?

Although this issue has been discussed for a long time, it recently came to the forefront in hearings about a proposed townhome subdivision off of Warm Springs. 

The project, called Atwell Place, had its first round of hearings for 40 townhomes on the far end of southeast Boise over the summer. Neighbors from Barber Valley came out to oppose the project, saying it was too dense for the area and it needed to have a driveway connection directly onto Warm Springs Road to help with traffic calming in the area, despite ACHD’s classification of the road preventing direct access onto the road.

Boise Planning & Zoning Commission ultimately voted down the project, saying it hadt too many homes without enough amenities for residents on the site. But, they weren’t convinced the city should try and force the developer to build access onto Warm Springs in defiance of ACHD policy at the time. 

Atwell Place Boise
Site of possible Atwell Place subdivision in Boise. Photo: Don Day/BoiseDev

Things could be different now, though, since ACHD voted to reclassify the road. The most recent site plans resubmitted for the Atwell Place project, now rebranded under a new name, do not show a connection to Warm Springs, but city spokesperson Lindsay Moser said the city is likely going to require a Warm Springs connection. 

“The planning team has been working with the applicant and they were aware of this possibility and that the planning team and P&Z would most likely require them to connect,” Moser wrote. “It is our understanding that the applicant has been working on a new site plan to address this possibility and will know more information soon.”

Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel - BoiseDev Sr. Reporter
Margaret Carmel is a BoiseDev reporter focused on the City of Boise, housing, homelessness and growth. Contact her at [email protected] or by phone at (757)705-8066.

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